Opinion

Part One: 8 Fantastic examples of employee engagement

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could measure our success at work solely based on our level of happiness? Maybe the Asian nation of Bhutan can teach us a thing or two; the Government measures the country’s success according to its Gross Domestic Happiness, instead of Gross Domestic Product!

Certainly, with the UK’s ongoing economic strife and stress levels on the up, Bhutan’s emphasis on happiness could be something to aspire to on some level.

But why should your boss make you happier? Well, research shows that business thrives financially when employees are more engaged at work. And when they’re more engaged, they’re generally a lot happier. Everyone wins!

If you’re an HR or wellbeing professional, it could benefit the whole company to suggest new and innovative ways to engage employees. But engagement goes way beyond benefits and incentives. Factors such as giving your staff opportunities to have their voice heard, providing them with the resources to do jobs well, and making them part of a wider ‘mission’ so they feel they’re contributing to something meaningful should be high on the priority list.

SMEs may think that employee engagement means big costs. Yet by making a few changes, smaller firms can put staff at the heart of decision-making, communicate more frequently and source new ideas.

While you ponder on what you could do, here are a few examples to inspire you. Although most are from key businesses (with enviable budgets!), SMEs can scale down the ideas so they work for them.

1. Since 2004 Google has had ‘20% time’, which enables employees to develop their own projects at work, while spending the other 80% on their ‘proper’ job. This has generated a lot of great ideas for the company. The global online empire also provides free legal advice, extra cash for new parents and provides themed meeting rooms – think ‘Irish pub’ or ‘Swiss chalet’!

2. Ever wondered why staff at your local John Lewis or Waitrose store are so cheery? It might be that the 85,500 permanent employees at the John Lewis Partnershipare all partners, and get a share in the benefits and profits.

3. Employees at special deals company, Groupon, are given support in upgrading their qualifications through an extensive training programme. The firm also takes employees’ opinions seriously – they get them involved by running staff focus groups.

4. Health food chain, Whole Foods Market, not only lets employees see each other’s salaries, but the company also sends staff on trips to meet suppliers so they learn more about where their products come from.

5. Although a luxury store, Harrods can’t afford to neglect its staff. So the retailer makes sure that employees are featured in its internal magazine, which includes an Agony Aunt column. Also, the ‘Bright Ideas’ scheme encourages workers to be innovative and have an influence on the company’s direction.

6. Trendy smoothie company, Innocent, gives an employee an extra week’s holiday once a year to work with one of the company’s foundation projects and offers training at the Innocent Business Academy.

7. Timpson, the company we all know for shoe repairs and key cutting, has a trouser allowance for expectant mums and a hardship fund for staff going through tough times.

8. Last, but by no means least, here at Pure we have a variety of initiatives to help encourage employee engagement. These vary from yoga classes, additional time off each year to undertake charity projects, and the chance to take part in company-wide projects such as Best Employers Eastern Region – an initiative that aims to find and recognise the best employers in the East of England.

If these fantastic ideas have piqued your interest, you can discover a lot more about employee engagement by visiting our Best Employers, Eastern Region section of the website.